Coming of age: gaming with my stepson

Anyone who regularly visits Later Levels or watches our streams will know my stepson. Ethan’s observations on video games have resulted in several posts, a few of which are my favourites, and he occasionally appears on camera when he decides to come down from his bedroom.

Sometimes it’s hard to believe I first met him not long after he’d turned seven because it feels as though he’s grown up so quickly. He’s no longer the shy kid who always carried a cuddly giraffe toy and a 2DS with him wherever he went; he’s now a teenager who’s starting to find their way in the world. To celebrate his birthday and the person he’s becoming, here’s a selection of the games we’ve bonded over during our time as a family and the memories we’ve made over the years together.

The LEGO Movie Videogame

GEEK, expo, convention, video games, Nintendo DS, Mario Kart, EthanEthan played The LEGO Movie Videogame constantly when I was first introduced to him, so much so that I ended up learning the words to the annoying theme tune off by heart. He used to wake me up early on Saturday mornings while Pete was still sleeping so I could he could teach me about it, and it was during these times he said several enlightening things which inspired a post for an earlier blog. It changed the way I felt about writing and the subjects I wanted to cover, setting the future direction for Later Levels.

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

GEEK, expo, convention, video games, Mario, costume, Ethan, cosplayMy young stepkid was slightly shocked to realise that ‘girls play video games’ when he met me and I had to prove my credentials during our first few times together. He ended up loving watching me play The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim and used to stand behind me, waving his arms about while pretending to be a knight with a sword and shield. One evening Phil came over to my apartment to hang out with us and showed Ethan the bucket trick – and I remember him giggling so hard that he almost wet himself. Good times.

Journey

Rezzed, video games, gaming, expo, EthanJourney taught my stepson that video games don’t always have to be destruction, explosions and a hero who saves the world. After climbing the snowy mountain and reaching the final cutscene, he said: “So I’m the star and the next person playing right now will see me in the sky at the start of their game. That’s cool.” Yet again he came out with something which inspired one of my favourite posts. Even though shared-parenting can still be tough, I think we’re doing ok when it comes to showing Ethan how to use games responsibly.

Minecraft

Bits & Bytes, expo, event, video games, Minecraft, EthanIt’s Phil we have to blame for Ethan’s Minecraft obsession after he gave him a copy as a present. It was lovely to see my stepson become so interested in a game but it brought out a few negative behaviours in him, so it taught Pete and I a lot about responsible parenting and the importance of limiting the amount of playtime. It wasn’t all bad though: Ethan came up with an idea to use Minecraft to raise money for SpecialEffect a few years ago, placing a block of TNT in a tower for every £1 donated and blowing it up on stream.

The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time


If it’s Phil we must blame for Minecraft-obsession, it’s The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time we must thank for starting to bring about an end to it. We downloaded the title onto his Wii U as a surprise one weekend and despite us being a little worried that the retro-style may put him off, my stepkid ended up loving it. He forgot about bashing things in a world made of blocks and became more interested in helping the citizens of Hyrule. He even wanted to do a Link cosplay for Comic Con (until we told him he’d have to wear tights).

Fallout 4

Comic Con, London, Pete, Ethan, cosplayers, Bill & TedEthan’s obsession with Minecraft may have been bad but it was nowhere near as huge as his fixation with Fallout 4. He found out about it after catching Pete playing on his laptop one weekend in late 2015 and it’s only now that he’s starting to gradually lose interest. He read every book on the series that he can get his hands on; bought so many Funko Pop! Vinyl figures with his pocket-money; and purchased a Pip Boy we found at the London Gaming Market with his birthday money. His bedroom remains a shrine to the Sole Survivor even now.

Job Simulator

Ethan, Pete, Christmas, PlayStation VRFor Christmas 2018, everyone in the family clubbed together to gift Ethan a PlayStation VR and I’ll never forget the look of excitement on his face when he unwrapped the box. It’s now something we take to family gatherings and everyone gets involved. My stepson’s favourite game back then was Job Simulator thanks to his favourite YouTuber at the time and, although it was great to find a virtual-reality title suitable for his age, it turned out to be one of the most mind-numbing to watch. Everyone now groans whenever he asks to put it on.

Overwatch

Ethan, Spencer, ice-cream, boysWhen my stepson asked us if he could spend his pocket-money on a copy of Overwatch last year, we were very surprised and a little apprehensive because he’d always shown an aversion to any kind of competitive team-play in video games. Our fears were abated though when he told us it was his best friend who’d introduced him to the title. You’ll now find them playing together online every weekend, and it’s Spencer who’s responsible for encouraging Ethan to move on from Fallout 4 so they can have shared interests (including ice-cream).

Dungeons & Dragons

wedding, Kim, Pete, EthanAnother recent surprise for us was when Ethan told us he’d always wanted to try a Dungeons & Dragons game, because it was something we’d never mentioned before. We hired the skills of Kevin from The Lawful Geek to run a trial session for him last month and it went so well: we all made it out of the crypt alive, were able to prevent a town from sinking into a swamp, broke a curse and were transformed into knights. It made my stepson’s day and he asked if it’s something we can do again, so it might become a regular family thing.

It hasn’t always been easy: moving into your teenage years is tough for anyone and living in a shared-parenting situation can sometimes make it even more difficult. But I think we’re doing ok so far and we’re finding our way forward together. It’s been a privilege be a part of my stepkid’s life during the past six years and it’s lovely to see him starting to grow into the person he’s going to become. Hopefully there’ll be many more gaming experiences in our future and I’m sure his comments will continue being the inspiration for blog posts.

Happy birthday, Ethan. Have a good one.

Gamers’ Guide to Isolation: alone but together

Welcome back to the final part of the Gamers’ Guide to Isolation, a short series here at Later Levels put together to help you through the current time of social distancing. After three weeks being indoors, it’s important we continue to look out for each other.

On Monday we looked at releases to make you feel like you’re outside even though you’re indoors, ones which give you the chance to stretch your digital legs and take a long hike, gentle stroll or relaxing bike-ride. Then on Wednesday, we discussed games you can play even while you’re meant to be working from home – because let’s face it, we all need something to give us a few minutes’ break from looking at spreadsheets or listening in on conference calls that go on for far too long.

So what have we got lined up for the last day of the series? With the help of my awesome blogger-friends, we’ve put together a list of titles to make you feel as though you’re hanging out with friends even though we’ve all been told to stay at home. The isolation part of dealing with COVID-19 is perhaps the hardest part for a lot of people and there’s no need to go through it alone! If you fancy some company, grab one of the following games and let’s hang out.

Don’t Starve Together

Suggested by Dan from nowisgames.com

Don’t Starve Together is the multiplayer version of Klei Entertainment’s glorious and hugely irritating Don’t Starve. An unforgiving and incredibly rewarding experience of crafting, surviving, fighting off giant badgers while you harvest honey. The amount of content they’ve made available over the years is staggering. The game takes this joy a step further, allowing you to survive and gather resources with your friends. I’m not sure what the current player limit is, but it used to be six. There’s spelunking, mystery, danger and cries of ‘What the heck was that noise!?’ throughout.”

Insaniquarium Deluxe

Suggested by Quietschisto from RNG

“The objectively correct answer, of course, would be to go online and actually play with your friends! But I don’t have any friends like big multiplayer games, so we have to look for an alternative. Also, social gatherings are forbidden, for now, so let’s take a look at games I have played with friends – offline.

Insaniquarium Deluxe. Yes, it’s just a stupid little clicker game, but it’s a stupid little clicker game I hold dearly. At some point, both of my sisters played it (probably their only video game ever), and my brother-in-law (he was still one of my sisters’ boyfriend back then) played it too. The four of us would constantly race to unlock all the pets, grow our virtual fish tank (which was done in ‘real-time’ over a couple of weeks) and to find all the pets’ backstories.

“I also played all three Dark Souls games for the first time alongside two friends, who were veterans. So I would struggle throughout the games, while they’d be in NG++, and sometimes watch via the Steam broadcast to mock me or give me some hints. But let’s be honest here, they usually mocked me.”

Mass Effect

Suggested by Solarayo from Ace Asunder

“You’re never alone with friends by your side and video game characters can absolutely feel like real friends. If you’re looking for some fine virtual friends I can say Commander Shepard and Pathfinder Ryder know how to attract the coolest companion life forms! BioWare’s Mass Effect series is the absolute pinnacle of perfection when it comes to companion character creation. You will get to know all the characters like family throughout the expansive space story. The beloved Mass Effect buddies will always stay by your side no matter what horrible fate is befalling the galaxy, all while cracking sarcastic jokes and probably flirting with you. If that’s not true friendship, I don’t know what is.”

Mass Effect (again)

Suggested by The Gaming Diaries

“There are plenty of times that you can play games with your friends through online multiplayer, however you can also make friends with the characters in game. The characters can become your friends and make you feel a part of something bigger, or just part of a family that you didn’t know you needed to find. A series of games that have made me feel like is Mass Effect. Throughout the trilogy and Andromeda, you meet fascinating characters who become a part of your crew and so much more than just teammates. You have the characters like Liam who try to keep the spirits up, Garrus who is your buddy, Joker who is always there to make you laugh, Mordin who brings the science and the songs, Tali who is a bit of a dreamer and wise beyond her years and so many more. Each of them becomes a member of the Shepard / Ryder crew but they start becoming their friends and yours along the way. I formed such attachments to these characters, gained a bit of understanding to the ones I didn’t like as much, but I wouldn’t want to be without them. Sometimes you don’t need real world people to make you feel like you are together. Sometimes the characters on screen can make us feel like we are hanging out together as well.”

Miencraft

Suggested by Dale from UnCapt

“The simplicity of being able to leave a realm up for your group to join and leave as they want to is a perfect remedy for the loneliness. Working on projects or simply surviving with friends is fun enough, but within my group, things go south quickly and everyone becomes pranksters. With how open and freeing Minecraft is, you can truly express your personality in what you do. Talking to and playing games with your friends is one thing, but watching them play something as they want to and work on what they enjoy is a reward in itself!”

No More Room in Hell

Suggested by Luke from Hundstrasse

“Heck, I could have picked out one of many online games that my friends and I have played over the years, but I think the community-made No More Room in Hell takes the prize here, not only because it’s a game that (despite its bugs and flaws) we keep coming back to, but also because it’s a game that makes me really feel as though I’m hanging out with friends. To survive you really have to work together as a strong team which means constant chat, planning, inventory swapping, and keeping an eye on everyone in the group. This isn’t a run-and-gun loose collection of people all kind of doing their own thing, in NMRiH players need to plan, cover each other, co-ordinate ammo types, and oh so slowly pick their way through a bleak zombie apocalypse. It’s this constant communication mixed up with general chat in the quiet moments that shrink the miles between us all sat in our respective homes. “

The Elder Scrolls Online

Suggested by Kim from Later Levels

“I started playing The Elder Scrolls Online on my own back in December 2015 but it wasn’t long before I realised it was much more fun with friends. First, I persuaded my other-half to play and we could be found adventuring through the wilds together most evenings; then we began to play with Tim and Jake from Timlah’s Texts & Unity3D Tech. We ended up meeting up online with these guys and Phil every Tuesday during our GameBlast20 streams and it was great hanging out with them online each week.”

And that’s the final part of our Gamers’ Guide to Isolation done! Thank you so much to all my blogger-friends who took part and helped put this series together. Please do take care of yourselves and your loved-ones, and let’s keep the conversation going.

Play Minecraft, raise money for charity

I’ve backed SpecialEffect since meeting their team at the EGX event in 2013 and have been involved in all sorts of activities for the organisation over the years: pub quizzes, presentations, 10K runs and volunteering days on their stand at expos. We’re currently gearing up for our 24-hour GameBlast18 stream next weekend (shameless plug).

It’s not SpecialEffect I’m writing about today however; it’s Brain in Hand, a team whose goal it is to change the world by helping people on their journey to independence. Their Brain in Hand app is packed with features – including easy access to personalised and remote support from The National Autistic Society – designed to help an individual reduce anxiety and feel safe, enabling people with a range of diverse needs to achieve things they never thought would be possible.

The company’s annual Minecraft marathon is returning to mark World Autism Awareness Day tomorrow and raise money for the brilliant charity Positively Autistic, an organisation which educates and creates positive awareness through channels such as online radio shows and Autism Movement Therapy. You can join them from 13:00 BST on Tuesday, 03 April 2018 for 24-hours on their Twitch channel.

That’s not all though: Brain in Hand is opening their virtual world and inviting everyone to get involved. All you need is a copy of Minecraft (the Java Edition) and the ambition to take on the challenge of building the most awesome structures possible. This year’s theme is ‘castles’ so credit will be given for towering walls, treacherous moats and majestic throne rooms.

To make things a bit more interesting, there’ll be some objectives for teams to complete: you’ll get points for incorporating features from a list of classic castle components and special guest judges will look out for creativity and general awesomeness. However, if you don’t want to enter the judging and just want to join in to have a good time, then that’s encouraged also.

There are other ways in which you can show your support too. Anyone who’d like to make a donation to Positively Autistic can visit the official GoFundMe page; and for those with a fondness for Twitch, you can host Brain in Hand’s stream on your channel from tomorrow. If you’d like to join in with the fun and games, please send an email to minecraft@braininhand.co.uk or join the forum.

Further information can be found in this article and in this post by Chris from OverThinker Y. He’ll be taking part in the event from 13:00 to 17:00 tomorrow then again from 08:00 to 13:00 on Wednesday, so stop by and give him a few words of encouragement!

Creative Christmas: need for speed

It’s day six of the Creative Christmas collaboration, where a group of bloggers are joining forces to tackle 12 video-game-related questions all based around a loose festive storyline. Following on from yesterday’s entry about cheeky mistletoe kisses, the next we’re facing is:

You’re woken from your drunken haze by another frantic call from Santa, who’s worried he’s not going to make all his deliveries in time. Which video game item or vehicle would you recommend for him?


My answer

There are over seven-billion people in the world, meaning that Santa has an awful lot of stops to make on Christmas Eve. It’s therefore no wonder he’s fretting that the reindeer won’t be able to move their butts quickly enough! What we need here is top speed over a variety of terrain and there are plenty of video game vehicles and objects to give the man in red a bit of a boost (sorry Rudolf).

Super Mario, video game, Mario, pipes, warp zone

Both Chris from OverThinker Y and Kevin from The Mental Attic picked up on great ways to travel in December’s question of the month. The fast-travel option in games such as The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim will instantly teleport you anywhere you’ve already been, making zipping around the world an awful much quicker; and the warp pipes from the Super Mario series would take Santa straight into people’s houses without the need to sneak down the chimney.

World of Warcraft, video game, vehicle, Mekgineer's Chopper, chopper, bike, sidecar

In terms of rides, how about the Mekgineer’s Chopper from World of Warcraft? Activate the sidecar and there’s room inside for plenty of presents and perhaps an elf with a mince-pie or two. Or if something more animal-orientated is to Santa’s tastes, there’s always the Strider from Horizon Zero Dawn; this horse-like machine can be overridden and will come whenever you whistle if you have the Call Mount skill (which the big guy obviously does, because reindeer).

The Legend of Zelda, Breath of the Wild, video game, Link, fire, cooking pot, recipe, hut, trees

There’s also the option of taking a little something-something to boost your speed – and it can be healthy at the same time. The Energizing Glazed Vegetables from The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild will instantly refill your Stamina Wheel and are a healthy antidote to all those mince pies (check out this recipe from Teri Mae at Sheikah Plate). And the Potion of Swiftness from Minecraft, as recommended by my stepson, will increase your speed by 20% so drink up.

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, video game, sweetroll, cake, lizard, plate

No child will be left disappointed on Christmas morning: there’s no way Santa can be late in making his deliveries with this range of video game items at his disposal. And the thought of that nice tankard of mead and sweetroll waiting for him by the fireside at home will make him move all the faster.

Other answers

🎁   Thero159 from A Reluctant Hero
🎅   Athena from AmbiGaming
❤   ClanGeek
🎄   Luna from GamersUnitedGG Blog
🎮   LightningEllen from LightningEllen’s Release
🤞   NekoJonez from NekoJonez’s Gaming Blog
🎉   Dan and Jon from nowisgames.com
🎁   Chris from OverThinker Y
👪   Austin from Reaper Interactive
🎅   Retro Redress
❤   Brandon from That Green Dude
🦌   The Dragon’s Tea Party
🎄   The Gaming Diaries
🦃   Kevin from The Mental Attic
👗   The Shameful Narcissist Speaks

The Creative Christmas collaboration is open to everyone and further details can be found in this post if you’d like to join in! Wednesday’s question: Your help must have worked, because it’s now Christmas morning and presents are under the tree! There’s a fancy box with your name on it; which gaming-related item are you hoping is inside?

BOOM: the best explosions in video games

Hot on the heels of Halloween and my post about creepy gaming urban legends, yesterday saw the UK celebrate Guy Fawkes Night. We burn bonfires and light fireworks, to remember Britain’s most notorious traitor after he planned to blow up the Houses of Parliament in 1605.

Whether we’re celebrating Fawkes’ execution or honouring his attempt to do away with the government, I’m not entirely sure; but what better excuse to write about the best explosions in video games? With a big thank you to my blogging buddies for their suggestions for the following list, let’s get ready to light the fuse…

Warning: some spoilers are included below so if you haven’t played a title, you may wish to skip forward to the next entry.

Dragon Age: Inquistion

Suggested by Athena from AmbiGaming: “The Conclave explosion on the menu screen of Dragon Age: Inquisition. Also sort of thematically appropriate..?”

By the end of Dragon Age II, the tense situation between the Templar Order and mages had descended into rebellion. But here are both groups marching side by side towards the building in the distance in the title screen for Inquisition, indicating that perhaps a treaty has been reached. Things aren’t so simple however: as soon as ‘New Game’ is selected, a huge explosion sends the scene into chaos. Players then take on the role of the lone survivor of this catastophy and embark on a storyline that starts from the first press of a button.

Fallout 3

Suggested by Rob from I Played The Game!: “Obvious suggestion is obvious: Megaton in Fallout 3.”

In ‘The Power of the Atom’ side-quest in Fallout 3, players are given the choice of disarming or detonating an atomic bomb and therefore deciding the fate of an entire town and its inhabitants. Mister Burke will give you the ‘honour’ of pushing the detonation button if you choose the latter and head to Tenpenny Tower after rigging the device. Blowing up Megaton is considered one of the most evil acts in the game and instantly lowers your Karma by 1,000 points – you might end up with a guilty conscience but damn, is that explosion pretty.

Just Cause 3

Suggested by Chris from OverThinker Y: “You can make a lot of crazy explosions in the Just Cause games (I was particularly proud of the explosives I put in a boat, which I tethered to a plane, which I flew over the sea and jumped out of, hit with an RPG on the way down and then detonated the explosives).”

I spent a number of evenings watching Ben stream this game when it was released back in 2015, many hours of which involved him being kicked by elephants, yelling ‘Eagle!’ or getting attacked by honey-badgers (good times). But what was just as entertaining were the explosions: planning them, making them, watching them and then being thrown into the air by them. Just Cause 3’s iconic brand of destruction is nothing short of beautiful, as can be seen from the video selected by Chris above.

Mega Man

Suggested by Kevin from The Mental Attic: “Best explosions are clearly the Mega Man ones that happen when you die.”

If your time has come, what better way to face it than in a blaze of glory? Mega Man’s death explosions may have evolved since the first title was released, as can be seen from the video above, but one thing has remained consistent throughout the past thirty years. He’s always shown us that a true hero bows out in style (and generally in a pattern of blue flashing orbs).

Resident Evil 3: Nemesis

Suggested by Luke from Hundstrasse: “I think I’d have to go with the destruction of Raccoon City at the end of Resident Evil 3. Mostly because it wiped out what had become an iconic gaming location.”

Towards the end of Resident Evil 3, former Special Tactics and Rescue Service (STARS) member Jill Valentine learns that the US government is planning to launch a nuclear missile into Raccoon City to eradicate the T-Virus infestation. Regardless of the actions taken by the player and the final ending received, our heroine narrowly escapes by helicopter before a thermobaric missile strike vaporises the entire place and its infected populace. The zombies never knew what hit them.

Split/Second: Velocity

Suggested by Lucius P. Merriweather from A Most Agreeable Pastime: “Best explosions in gaming? Has to be Split/Second – blowing up the airport is phenomenal.”

Now I have to admit, I’d never heard of Split/Second before Lucius suggested it for today’s list but this arcade racing game looks pretty cool. Players take part in a fictional reality-television program where participants race for money and glory, and their ‘power play’ metres can be built up by performing stunts or precision driving such as drifting. Speed around the airport terminal and you’ll have to keeps your wits about you while driving through the destruction caused by a plane crash.

Star Fox 64

Suggested by Imtiaz from Power Bomb Attack: “Star Fox 64 boss explosions where great, pretty big, cool sounds, and then the victory music with the team checking in.”

Known in Europe and Australia as Lylat Wars, Star Fox 64 was released 20 years ago and was the most successful entry in the franchise; it was even given the honour of being named as 45th greatest game of all time by the Guinness World Records Gamer’s Edition in 2009. We gamers enjoy watching the bad guys go ‘boom’ and this title features some of the best boss explosions: big, fiery spheres of destruction followed by epic victory music.

Minecraft

Suggested by Ethan: “Oh my lord! Holy moley! Operation SpecialEffect Mountain Removal was a success. I repeat: the operation was a success.”

For the past few years my stepson has participated in GameBlast with us, a gaming marathon to raise awareness and funds for SpecialEffect. This year he did something extra special for the charity: for every £1 donated, he placed a block of TNT on a tower in his Minecraft world. A number of hours of gaming and 872 blocks later, the video above shows the resulting explosion. I dread to think what he’s going to come up with for 2018’s event…

Hope you guys had a great Guy Fawkes Night yesterday!   💥

The Legend of Zelda: the cure for obsessions and broken hearts

This post is part of a series exploring the history of The Legend of Zelda and its major entries. Be sure to check out the hub article on NekoJonez’s Gaming Blog for links to all the great retrospectives written by other bloggers, and to find out more about what makes this Nintendo franchise such a classic.

Image above courtesy of Pieter-Jan Casteels.

•••

A couple of years ago, it seemed as if Minecraft had completely taken over my young stepson’s world. He talked about it non-stop for the entire time he was with us every weekend. He woke us up at 05:30 each day just so we could play it together (despite being told to go back to bed). He explained that we were exploring ‘Minecraft world’ whenever we went out to the park for the day; and all of his imaginary games involved enemies that looked suspiciously like creepers who blew up when hit with a sword.

You could say it was a childhood obsession but we noticed Ethan’s behaviour changing. After picking up the controller he’d start to get tetchy: he stopped taking on our suggestions for things to build because they were ‘silly’ and did the opposite of whatever we proposed when he asked what armour or weapon he should take on his adventures. This title about ‘creativity’ seemed to bring about a more aggressive side in my stepson that we weren’t expecting – but luckily, a green-suited hero on a sure-footed steed came to the rescue in our hour of need.

Ethan has always had a fascination with castles, knights and all things noble for as long as I’ve known him. It therefore wasn’t much of a surprise when he chose a Link Amiibo to go with the Wii U he received for Christmas that year. Other than a short amount of time spent with The Legend of Zelda on his dad’s old Game Boy he’d never had any contact with the character, but the sword in his hand and shield on his back convinced him that this was a mighty, powerful warrior worthy of spending his pocket-money on.

His slightly distorted view of Link may have been based on his imagination rather than the developer’s intended design but he came to like him so much that other characters featured in Mario Kart 8 stopped getting a turn on the track. It was therefore a sign when I heard Nintendo were making The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time available on their Virtual Console in 2015, and we decided to download the game as a surprise before we picked him up one Friday evening.

We were a little worried it might be too difficult for him or that the retro-style would put him off playing but my other-half and I both had such fond memories of the title that we thought it was worth a shot. I first experienced it back in the late 1990s after a boyfriend had cruelly broken my teenage heart and my brother invited me to play it with him to take my mind off things, and it worked: we spent hours in his bedroom just running around the fields of Hyrule and fishing in Lake Hylia. It was the first time we hadn’t had a sibling argument in years and I didn’t give that boyfriend a second thought.

It turned out that Ethan loved Ocarina of Time just as much as we had when we were younger. We raced on Epona while trying to get to Lon Lon Ranch before the skeletal Syalchildren came out at night. We became entangled in the Lost Wood on several occasions and drew maps on scraps of paper to help. We turned day-into-night and night-into-day more times than I can remember so we could learn the Ocarina notes. We befriended Kokiri and Gorans, found lost puppies, made staggering leaps of faith – and yelled at Navi to keep quiet whenever she nagged us to listen.

It’s proof you don’t need fancy high-resolution graphics, endless open-worlds or complicated gameplay to make an amazing title. An awesome video game will stand the test of time regardless of technological advances and this one still holds up since its release almost 20 years ago. Yes, the graphics may now look dated and yes, Navi can be really bloody annoying when she wants to be, but many people the world over still refer to it as one of the best titles ever made and you can almost guarantee its place in any new ‘top games’ list.

Its legacy is pretty clear to any gamer. As one of the first 3D action-adventure games, it introduced many aspects that would become staples of the genre in future years – just look at the lock-on Z-targeting and the context-sensitive actions as good examples. This is a game held in such high esteem that it’s sometimes easy to forget how ground-breaking its mechanics were, and how accomplished they remain all these years later.

Ocarina of Time also seemed to have a great effect on my stepson: he stopped being all about bashing everything in sight and filling Nether fortresses full of chickens (although that was pretty funny), and became more about saving the world. I think it was the actions-and-consequences element of the storyline that did it. If we didn’t help the citizens of Hyrule – even if it was only finding their lost puppies, reorganising their crates or selling them masks – the evil Ganondorf would triumph, and that was something Ethan didn’t want to let happen.

Rezzed, video games, gaming, expo, Ethan

Link may not have turned out to be the ‘mighty warrior’ of his imagination but he now sees him as more than just the Master Sword and Hylian Shield. He’s also getting to have his own experience of playing and it’s sweet to think that perhaps he’ll end up showing Ocarina of Time to his own children one day. Those familiar notes will sound on the Ocarina, he’ll remember the battle for the Triforce, and he’ll be transported straight back to the beautiful land of Hyrule.